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Graphic shows match preview with fixtures, and UEFA Europa League records of teams dropping into the competition from the Champions League.


UEFA Europa League enters knock-out stages

By Chris Dinsdale

February 18, 2021 - UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg matches include a contest between Real Sociedad and Manchester United, currently battling at the top of Spain’s La Liga and England’s Premier League respectively. The second leg matches take place on February 25.

The Real Sociedad-Manchester United match will be played in Turin, Italy, because of Covid-19 restrictions. Spain has barred travellers from the UK, where a new variant of Covid-19 is present.

The 2020-21 UEFA Europa League is the 50th season of Europe’s secondary club football tournament.

Manchester United -- Europa League champions in 2017 -- are one of eight teams to drop into the tournament after being eliminated from the Champions League, Europe’s premier club competition. Others include Dutch team Ajax and Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine, who have also lifted the Europa League trophy in the past.

The season culminates with the final at the Stadion Energa Gdańsk in Poland on May 26, 2021.

The winners of the tournament automatically qualify for the 2020-21 Champions League group stage, and earn the right to play against the winners of the 2020-21 Champions League in the 2021 UEFA Super Cup.

Clubs qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national league and cup competitions.

PUBLISHED: 16/02/2021; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images